Plans for a FC Cincinnati stadium in Cincinnati’s West End cleared a hurdle Wednesday, when the city council approved a community benefits agreement.
As part of its ongoing MLS expansion bid, FC Cincinnati has proposed the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium at the site of Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium. That plan took a step forward last month, when the city council approved an ordinance that could lead to a $33.8-million funding package for infrastructure improvements to support the stadium, but the completion of a community benefits agreement was a step that remained in the process.
The city council delivered its approval on Wednesday, which came after the team wrapped up negotiations with representatives from the West End. This does not finalize MLS expansion approval, but it still represents a major step in the process. More from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The vote is the last action from City Hill needed to finish the package to build the 21,000-seat soccer stadium. FC Cincinnati now has met the last major requirement outlined by Major League Soccer to secure a franchise in the league.
Council members David Mann and P.G. Sittenfeld said some of the problems that remain in the West End that can’t be solved by a community benefits agreement. They said that responsibility falls to the city, and the city is ready to take the right steps forward.
Negotiations for the benefits agreement between the team and representatives from the West End began at 8 a.m. [Wednesday].
If the MLS expansion bid is approved and its new facility is constructed, FC Cincinnati will replace Stargel Stadium by building a new venue at a nearby site. The club has been a USL attendance success story at Nippert Stadium, but MLS has been clear in its desire for a new stadium as part of any expansion bid.
Cincinnati, Detroit, and Sacramento remain from a group of four finalists that were considered for two MLS expansion spots in December. MLS selected Nashville’s bid in December, but opted to hold off on decisions regarding the other bids and has still not finalized plans for its next selection. Pinning down stadium plans has been one key issue in FC Cincinnati’s pursuit, while Sacramento has been searching for additional investment to back its bid. Detroit’s proposal, meanwhile, calls for sharing the existing Ford Field with the NFL’s Lions rather than building a new stadium. There is still no firm timeline for when MLS will announce its next expansion decision.
Image courtesy FC Cincinnati.
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